15 seconds of fame and back to the day job

By Amelia Wade

If God loves a trier, the creators of New Zealand's Got Talent positively lust after them. But Amelia Wade finds it's not just a case of turning up, as she joins others vying for a crack at fame.

Journalist Amelia Wade auditions for New Zealand's Got Talent auditions at Epsom Girls Grammar. Photo / Natalie Slade
Journalist Amelia Wade auditions for New Zealand's Got Talent auditions at Epsom Girls Grammar. Photo / Natalie Slade

Without a shadow of a doubt, I was the least prepared there.

The stolen rehearsals in the office break room and bathroom yesterday morning were nothing on the years of practice my competitors looking for a spot on New Zealand's Got Talent had on me.

Yesterday evening's line, filled with Elvis, salsa dancers, Indian dancers and guitar upon guitar, stretched out of Epsom Girls' Grammar and around the corner.

They came because they thought this was their chance to shine, to show off their carefully honed talent. Even the young ones put me to shame.

Eva Bailey, 6, and her best friend, Sophie Donaldson, 7, had been perfecting their separate cheerleading routines - complete with backflips - for a year. They turned up dressed in white leotards, red skirts with large bows in their rock-hard hair-dos and bright blue eyeshadow. Neither was nervous.

I was. Nerves consumed every thought and my insides felt heavy all day.

I hadn't tap-danced in five years, but hoped the decade of practising the craft meant it would all come flooding back once the shoes were dug out of a suitcase in the garage and strapped back on my feet.

After I signed releases and had my photo taken for their records and an identity sticker plastered to my chest, the organisers let me audition in one of the classrooms. "So tell me about your dancing, when did you start?," said Loretta Jacobs, the New Zealand's Got Talent line producer, from behind a desk.

She got a mumbled reply with lots of awkward hand gestures.

After a few more questions, Loretta put me out of my misery and hit play on my chosen backtrack, Singin' in the Rain, which I danced to many moons ago and hoped was cemented in my muscle memory.

I can't really remember what happened after that. After I fizzled out, there was a long pause before Loretta asked me if I was done.

"Or would you like to go again?"

Her offer was swiftly declined.

She promised me I'd feel better afterwards, and I did - the leaden stomach eased and there was a small sense of accomplishment (though that was swallowed by the overwhelming sense of embarrassment).

I wasn't Loretta's first tap dancer.

There had also been a miniature horse, a howling dog and a cross-dressing octogenarian among the 4000 hopefuls.

Christopher Olwage's Black Swan performance was particularly impressive and the judges seemed to like him too. He arrived at 11.30am for the 4pm auditions and was forced to put on his costume - spray-tan, black tutu, tiara and contacts - in the hall bathroom.

The judges told him he had a "high chance" of getting through to the heats next month. Somehow, I don't think I'll be on that list.

* The last opportunity to audition for New Zealand's Got Talent is today at Epsom Girls' Grammar from 10am to 4pm.

- NZ Herald

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